November 18th, 2011 by Lloyd Gofton
Google+ launched Google+ pages last week, in direct competition with Facebook, and the evidence shows that many brands have set up a page over the first week of activity, at least according to research by SEO firm BrightEdge, who confirmed ‘61 percent of world’s top 100 brands have already created Google+ pages‘, which is pretty impressive considering the time frame.
The question that keeps coming up is: ‘Why do I need a Facebook page and a Google+ page?’ Many of those brands that have taken the plunge already will have grabbed their Google+ page, simply to secure it, which is reason enough at least in the short term. Some may be surprised to hear though that it’s easy to set up fake pages so look for the verified badge when you visit the site.
So why does a brand need a Google+ page? Well, there are many reasons, 18.5 of which are defined in Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp’s piece on the Drum last week, and as he suggested, the integration of Analytics, YouTube, Adwords, Picassa offers an advantage over Facebook, and perhaps an insight into the longer term strategy.
Obviously Facebook is the prime motivation for the Google+ launch, and many feel Google+ is too far behind to mount an effective challenge, but the issue here is not so much about the stand alone effectiveness of Google+ vs Facebook, but the sheer scale of Google products that Google + already integrates, and will undoubtedly increase in the future. Let’s also not forget Google’s strength, its search engine, which has led to its Google+ pages already out ranking Facebook brand pages, which is reason enough for some brands to get involved.
The BrightEdge analysis showed Google+ pages on average appeared in the top 12 Google search results for the corresponding brand, while the brand’s Facebook pages on average appeared in the top 13 or 14 listed results.
The flexibility in connectedness, and search, gives Google the long term edge in terms of synching with its full range of services. Of course many services also synch with Facebook, but Google’s vision seems to take this to another level. We’re not talking about beating Facebook, Google is simply building around it and making it less relevant.
The reality is we’re a long way away from that today as 94 percent of the Top 100 brands analysed by BrightEdge have a presence on Facebook, and in terms of the big brands, like Coke, McDonalds and Verizon each only has dozens of fans on Google+, but millions of Facebook fans. The review of Facebook and Google+ properties for the top 100 brands showed a collective total of almost 300 million Facebook fans, compared to approximately 148,000 Google+ followers for these same brands.
Looking at the figures today, the task ahead of Google+ seems insurmountable, but i suspect the gulf between Facebook and Google+ will fall as the connected battle gets into second gear, and Google has already announced a pilot program that will allow businesses and brands to manage their Google+ Pages using a number of third-party applications, including Buddy Media, Context Optional, Hearsay Social, HootSuite, Involver, and Vitrue.
The issue is not so much about Google+ catching Facebook, but about offering a viable and useful reason to have a Google+ page as well. We may see different verticals opting for different networks based on reach and audience in the future, but with these options brands have ever more increasing routes to listening and engaging with their communities.